I’m just going to have to satisfy (dissatisfy?) the Brian Kowal / Tim Aten crowd and come out and say it: Great Sable Stag is just better than Gnarled Mass, and you all know how YT feels about his Gnarled Mass.
I really want to play Great Sable Stag main. Its size profile makes this a possibility even if White Weenie / Kithkin is one of the default decks (3/3 is bigger than 2/2 First Strike). It’s a different story if we are staring down Honor of the Pure across the table (often absolutely horrid, but not uncommonly not that big a deal, at least in the sense that we can still trade sometimes). But of course the reason that we would play this card is that it should be so effective against Fae.
Great Sable Stag is just an utter beating against Fae. Can’t counter it, can’t kill it, can’t block it; if you want to tap it and keep it from attacking you, you can only do so at great [opportunity] cost. Play Great Sable Stag off a first turn Noble Hierarch or whatever and you’ve basically just won (especially on the play).
This is also a solid card against Reflecting Pool Control. Not the best card, maybe, but it gets past Plumeveil and demands a real response; the question is whether Reflecting Pool Control goes back to Volcanic Fallout or farther back to Firespout; because Fallout is a feather in Great Sable Stag’s hat whereas Firespout could spell disaster. Like The Man Tsuyoshi Fujita used to tell me while rubbing his imaginary beard: “De-PENDS on the me-ta-GAME” (say that in like four syllables).
Worst case scenario, Great Sable Stag is what Brian Kowal would call a Grollub. You would not believe the arguments old BK used to make about the humble Grollub. “No one is willing to play these cards against Red…” (and with good reason, we’d chide) “… but they win.” He was right a lot of the time (just like today when he makes a Boat Brew). Just laying out some garbage 3/3 can be really annoying for a fast Red Deck. They have to not ignore it. If all you do is keep a Boggart Ram-Gang off your back for a turn you’re doing something significant, buying yourself time, turn(s) with three, six, nine more life, and setting up for your next, better, play. Grollubs (or Great Sable Stags) are never really terrible. You lay them out there and sometimes you get to deal three, six, nine of your own (sometimes), and it can matter.
Great Sable Stag, Kitchen Finks, or Great Sable Stag and Kitchen Finks?
I always declare cards my new favorite card… Feudkiller’s Verdict, Martial Coup, and so on, but don’t always play them (played / play the eff out of Banefire, though). What about Great Sable Stag? Objectively the card is worse than a Kitchen Finks for most decks (and against most decks). That doesn’t necessarily mean you would play Kitchen Finks over Great Sable Stag. This is an advanced deck design concept: Sometimes you will play the “worse” card (not even sideboarding the better one). That said, the third point of toughness on Great Sable Stag is like a special ability in and of itself, and is something to be considered. Kitchen Finks is very good (on turn three at least) against Fae; Great Sable Stag is clearly better… You can lace it up with Behemoth Sledge, you don’t have to worry about looking foolish running it into a Mistbind Clique, et cetera. In the same way Great Sable Stag is probably better against most controlling decks. I typically side out Kitchen Finks against decks like Reflecting Pool Control, Reveillark, etc.
Kitchen Finks is usually better against beatdown, but there are certainly situations you would rather have Great Sable Stag. For example I’ve played against a lot of Magma Sprays in my day. Magma Spray is pretty janky Great Sable Stag. Would you play both?
BDM and I have been working on All-in Green for the upcoming PTQs. We have been trying to capture the bomb feel of the Urza’s Block-era Rofellos and Trinity Green decks. Primal Command is our Plow Under and there are no shortage of good creatures (just no Masticore). Work in progress, sure, but I could see playing with both cards (certainly after sideboarding… the options get thin after Guttural Response).
Just some initial thoughts.
I like a Great Sable Stag and could see it as Staple.
One of the things I blogged about a week or two back is how control decks will adopt Lightning Bolt. It seems that the existence of cards like this one would help to justify that prediction 🙂
Currently Reading: Nikolai Dante: Sword of the Tsar (2000 Ad)